I RECALL conversations with Labour friends during 2014 who were critical of the Yes side playing the NHS card during the independence debate.
They argued that it was dishonest because health was already fully devolved and therefore irrelevant to the Yes/No question. I disagreed, arguing that as NHS funding was squeezed South of the Border this would come back to haunt Scotland through reduced Barnett consequentials, assuming that the Barnett formula even survived the backlash after a No vote.
Well, as we say in these parts: “Ye ken noo.” Segue forward three years and look at the state of the NHS in England — a recurring car crash on a weekly and monthly basis. I sometimes thank providence for the unwon battle for a Scottish Six, for it is only by receiving our daily fix of London-centric BBC news that we are reminded what a mess the Health Service is in South of the Border. Imagine if the only news we were getting was Opposition carping at Holyrood devoid of the relative picture of NHS crisis elsewhere on this island?
And so to today’s toxic news courtesy of The Times that the English body and comedy gold oxymoron, NHS Improvement has detected a “golden opportunity” to borrow £10 billion from hedge funds. Shall I repeat that? Borrow £10 billion from hedge funds. It’s as if the saga of PFI has been sent down Winston Smith’s memory hole.
The story says this would be spent on a hospital repairs backlog and improved GP care. The Treasury may or may not approve this, but if it goes through it would constitute health spending in England which will bring no consequential funding to Scotland. It will accelerate the slide towards the Scottish system being coerced towards the ultimate goal of the US healthcare model.